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Worker accused of stealing $ 10,000 COVID vaccine cards

An employee at a Los Angeles County mass vaccination site faces a theft charge for allegedly stealing more than 500 blank COVID-19 vaccine cards.

Muhammad Rauf Ahmed, 45, was employed as a non-clinical contract worker at the Pomona Fairplex vaccination site in La Verne on April 27 when police received a call about a possible theft, according to the La Verne Police Department.

A site security guard noticed that Ahmed was walking out of the facility with a stack of cards in his hand.

Authorities found blank vaccination cards in Ahmed’s car, then discovered around 400 more in his hotel room.

In total, they collected 528 cards.

Retail Sgt. Cory Leeper of the La Verne Police Department said that Ahmed, of Las Vegas, initially claimed he took the cards to “pre-fill” them and get ahead of his workload. But blank cards are not allowed to leave vaccination sites, Leeper said, and stacks of cards in the hotel room were still sealed in plastic.

“It wasn’t something that is allowed, and it wasn’t something that nobody was aware of,” Leeper said. “He didn’t get permission for it. It was an intentional thing he was doing by bringing these cards back to his hotel room.

His arrest and charges come amid a larger conversation about vaccine credentials, sometimes called vaccine passports, which may be needed for business, school, travel, and other activities at the hospital. to come up.

In May, a San Joaquin County bar owner was arrested on suspicion of selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine cards for $ 20 apiece, for which he was charged with identity theft and forgery. ‘a government seal.

Leeper said investigators looked into the case to help determine the value of the cards in Ahmed’s possession.

“Measuring fair market value is difficult because you could say it was just a blank sheet of paper,” he said. But at a valuation of $ 20, the stolen cards were worth around $ 10,000, which is considered grand theft.

In recent months, the FBI has issued warnings that the sale of fake cards bearing the government logo is a crime. Marketplace websites such as eBay, OfferUp, and Shopify have also been warned that the sale of fake cards is prohibited.

In LA County, the number of COVID-19 vaccinations has slowed, with just under 46% of county residents fully vaccinated. In the week ending June 6, about 240,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the county, up from about 534,000 in the same week the month before, according to state data.

The Pomona Fairplex site, which sometimes administered nearly 4,000 vaccinations a day, is expected to close after June 13 as the county shifts to smaller, more mobile clinics in a bid to reach more people.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said it filed a grand theft charge against Ahmed on Wednesday. He is due to appear at the Pomona courthouse in August.

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